Romans 12:15 NKJV
To show compassion we need to recognise and understand other people’s emotions. The Bible says, ‘Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.’ In other words, if someone is hurting, hurt with them, and if they’re happy, be happy for them. If our colleague has just been promoted, we can either let ourselves become jealous and resentful or we can rejoice with them. Or if someone we know just lost a loved one and we don’t know what to say, we just need to be there for them. We can enter a part of the grieving process with them. Showing compassion goes beyond words. It’s about recognising the emotions of others, and then allowing ourselves to feel those emotions too. The Bible tells us about a time when Jesus’ friend died (you can read about this in John 11). When Jesus arrived at the scene, Lazarus had been dead for a few days and everyone was mourning. He knew He could raise Lazarus from the dead, and He did. But before that, we’re told that ‘Jesus wept’ (John 11:35 NIV). He allowed himself to enter into the emotions of those around Him. And that’s what we need to do too. Paul said: ‘Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves…clothe yourselves with tender-hearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience’ (Colossians 3:12 NLTUK). In our interactions with others, we need to be wearing all these things. If we’re frustrated with someone because of their struggles, or we’re impatient because of the things we’re personally going through, we can sometimes come across as insensitive. But we’re called to be gentle, kind, and patient with people. We’re called to walk alongside people, whatever they’re going through.
Isa 63-66; Matt 13:36-46; Ps 138; Prov 4:14-17
1 Peter 3:8 NKJV
Compassion means “to enter into another’s passion.” How can you do that? You might, for example, find out why the other person is so stressed or depressed. What’s preoccupying them, why do they feel so passionately, and how can you enter into it? Or maybe a friend has been diagnosed with an illness, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, or cancer. What should you do? Maybe your brother or cousin is planning a high-end wedding or has bought a new home in an upscale neighbourhood. Perhaps an associate just got promoted and the rest of their coworkers are envious and resentful. Attitudes are fickle at best – and outright ugly at worst. But the person who got promoted is beaming, so enter into their passion and beam with them! Maybe someone you know just lost a loved one and you don’t know what to say. Don’t say anything; just “be there”! The Bible says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15 NKJV). In other words, if someone is hurting, hurt with them, and if they’re happy, be happy for them. Enter into their passion – that’s how you show compassion! In an effort to look holy, sometimes we come across as harsh and insensitive. Here’s how Paul addressed that very issue: “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves…clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience” (Colossians 3:12 NLT). Some of us have to work harder at this than others. But there’s no opt-out clause: “All of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another.” That includes you!
Soul food: Isa 63-66; Matt 13:36-46; Ps 138; Prov 4:14-17
James 5:11 NIV
When it comes to Christlike compassion, the Bible teaches us two more things. Firstly, compassion relates to the needs of others. Paul writes, ‘Jesus…This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do’ (Hebrews 4:14-15 NLT). Jesus understands. Whatever situation, challenge, or difficulty we find ourselves in, Jesus can relate. He faced pressure, rejection, pain, temptation, and false accusations. And when we face those things, we can understand how other people feel too. None of us like facing tough times, but those times are the ones which grow our compassion. We become able to help and encourage those who are facing a similar situation. Secondly, compassion responds to the needs of others. It’s not enough just to recognise and relate to the needs of others. We need to provide practical help; otherwise, our compassion doesn’t mean much. Jesus responded to sick people with healing, to hungry people with food, and to lost people with the good news of the gospel. Maybe we can sponsor a hungry child, spend time with someone who is lonely, bring a meal to someone who’s grieving, pray for someone who is struggling, or listen patiently to someone who needs a friend. The Bible says that Jesus ‘went around doing good’ (Acts 10:38 NIV). We need to make sure we’re focused on ‘doing good’ rather than appearing good. Our compassion shouldn’t just be for show. In James 5, we’re told that ‘the Lord is full of compassion and mercy.’ Are we people who are full of compassion? And are we prepared to let that compassion move us to help when we see people in need?
Isa 58-62; Matt 13:24-35; Ps 134; Prov 4:5-13
Philippians 2:4 NCV
Many dictionaries define compassion as sympathy, pity, or concern – all emotional responses. But the compassion of Jesus goes beyond emotion and translates into action. The Bible says: ‘When you do things, do not let selfishness or pride be your guide. Instead, be humble and give more honour to others than to yourselves. Do not be interested only in your own life, but be interested in the lives of others’ (Philippians 2:3-4 NCV). Putting other people before ourselves can be really tricky, especially when those people frustrate us. Sometimes other people have been hurt, and they have messy lives, which can make them challenging to love. In Luke 23:43, Jesus showed compassion to a convicted criminal on the cross and saved him. The criminal said: ‘”Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise”‘ (vv.42-43 NIV). We shouldn’t pick and choose who we’ll show compassion to. God cares about the needs of every single person, and we should care about their needs too. If we only care about our own needs, or the needs of those who are easy to love, we’re not acting like Jesus. We need to see beyond ourselves, even when we’re going through a tough time. There are always people around us who need support. The Bible asks: ‘If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?’ (1 John 3:17 NIV). Showing God’s love to people means being concerned about the needs of others, and being willing to step up and help.
Luke 19:11-26; Ps 36:5-9;Heb 10:19-23
Luke 10:33 NKJV
Many dictionaries define compassion as sympathy, pity, or concern – all emotional responses. But the compassion of Jesus transcends emotion and translates into action. Christlike compassion: (1) Recognizes the needs of others. “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4 NKJV). Note the phrase “better than himself,” and then look around you at the people in your life and say to yourself, “Better than myself.” If you tend to be self-centered, it will take a while for this concept to sink in. Note also the words, “look out…for the interests of others.” Sometimes those “others” are badly messed up and not easy to love. For example, how about people in prison? You say, “Well, they got what they deserved.” Maybe – but did you always get what you deserved or did you just not get caught? Think about it! When you visit someone sick or in prison, Jesus said you’re “doing it to me!” (Matthew 25:40 NLT). In Luke 23:43, He showed compassion to a convicted criminal on the cross and saved him. You shouldn’t pick and choose to whom you’ll show compassion! The Bible says, “To him who is afflicted, kindness should be shown by his friend, even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty” (Job 6:14 NKJV). Mother Teresa prayed, “Grant that, even if you are hidden under the unattractive disguise of anger, crime, or madness, I may recognize you and say, ‘Jesus, You who suffer, how sweet it is to serve You.'”
Soul food: Luke 19:11-26; Ps 36:5-9; Heb 10:19-23